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Maybe you were like me and had a vision/dream/plan for how your life would go. During my college years, I created a five and 10-year plan for my life. It included graduating, getting a job, getting married (I was dating my future husband), buying a house, and traveling. None of my dreams had an unplanned pregnancy, which can rock your world.

Some of the things I planned did occur. I graduated from college, worked as a teacher, and got married. Eventually, other items made my list, like attending graduate school. Still, getting pregnant was down the line – way down the line.  

But picture this: I was in the last semester of graduate school. I had found my dream career. I was feeling unwell but attributed it to eating bad mall food or the stress of school. But something inside said, “Go get a pregnancy test,” and I did. I still remember what I felt when those two pink lines were evident on that strip: OMG, I’m pregnant, and it’s unplanned. 

If you’re in a similar situation, you may be wondering how to process all you’re feeling inside.

Here are some ways to help you process the emotions of an unplanned pregnancy:

1. Acknowledge the emotional overload.

Take time to process everything that you are feeling. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. 

When I saw those two pink lines, I immediately went into denial. This can’t be happening. This wasn’t in the plan right now. Then I was bombarded with emotions like being overwhelmed, scared, nervous, excited, and a little shame and guilt because I was faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Then came gratefulness because my doctor had told me it would be challenging to have a baby, and several of my friends were having trouble getting pregnant. Dealing with your emotions can take a while, no matter what they are.

2. Feel what you feel.

It’s essential to allow all that you feel to surface, even if it’s ANGER. Your natural reaction may be to push down negative thoughts or emotions. It’s better to put all your feelings on the table to deal with them. If you are angry at yourself, your partner, or even your child, it’s OK to feel what you feel. You just can’t stay there, because it’s not helpful.

3. Be prepared for your feelings to change.

You are experiencing many things right now, but that doesn’t mean you will always feel this way. If you feel angry or overwhelmed, it definitely doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out to be a parent. An unplanned pregnancy doesn’t mean your child won’t be loved or adored upon arrival. Be gentle with yourself and your spouse/partner as you both process. 

4. Talk to your circle of support.

Yes, you may be on emotional overload. You have too many questions and not enough answers. Guess what? Your partner is probably dealing with the same things: shock, denial, feeling overwhelmed, or even scared. In the same way you need space and time to process, give your spouse/partner the same consideration. A healthy relationship should be the primary safe space for you to share concerns and fears about the change in your lives.

Talking to friends and family will help you recognize that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. In fact, more than 45% percent of women in the U.S. have experienced an unplanned pregnancy. Sharing all that you feel in an open and safe environment allows you to process your feelings. 

Emotions do not have to be destructive, and what you do with all you’re feeling can make a world of difference. So allow yourself to feel and process through what you feel. Shoving down your emotions and ignoring them aren’t beneficial to you or your situation. As you read this, you may still be in some form of shock or denial, and that’s OK. Keep moving forward and processing your emotions to get to the other side. 

Remember, some of the best surprises are unplanned.

Other blogs:

4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety

Tips for Controlling Your Emotions

Unplanned Pregnancy in Marriage

Sources: 

Preventing unplanned pregnancy: Lessons from the states

Something shifted overnight for me. At first, I scoffed at how absurd people were being about a silly virus. Then I began to feel a looming sense of dread, realizing that this was not something to take lightly. It was 3 months into my third pregnancy. I started questioning if that meant I was an immunocompromised at-risk person who would be more susceptible to COVID-19. And although I suddenly went from an apathetic state to a concerned and informed citizen, I still had no clue what it all meant. Or how it would actually affect all of our lives in such a drastic way. If I’m being honest, I still didn’t worry too much about being pregnant during a pandemic. That’s because I thought it would blow over in a month, or, at the most, by the time I gave birth. 

But being in the middle of a pandemic rapidly changed the landscape in which I conducted my life and consequently my third pregnancy.

Ya know, they say each pregnancy is different, but now that I’m 6 months pregnant and COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon… I’d say this one is taking the cake. But just because this pregnancy is DIFFERENT, doesn’t mean it has to be DISASTROUS. I am realizing that finding the positives in pregnancy during a pandemic is ALL about shifting my perspective.

My prenatal workout class

…Went from an amazing escape every Monday night, connecting with other pregnant mamas and getting an hour break from all the responsibilities of having two kids and a full-time job to a virtual Zoom session from home. And it’s quite the struggle to find a quiet space to exercise without my kids literally jumping on my back or bumping into me. attempting to do the moves alongside me.

UPSIDE: The kids are kinda cute when they try to do the workout moves. I still get to check in with other mamas, and working up a sweat contributes to a healthy pregnancy! (Also having my girls see me working out models good healthy habits for them!) 

Prenatal doctor appointments… (specifically the 20-week Anatomy Scan)

…changed drastically. It went from a much-anticipated appointment where my husband would attend and we’d find out the gender together to an extremely lonely experience. I wore a mask, sat in an almost empty waiting room, and saw a skeleton crew of healthcare employees. I recorded the ultrasound to show my husband when I got home since spouses were (and currently are) not allowed to attend any appointments.

UPSIDE: I have a video of the ultrasound, which would otherwise not be allowed. And really, I’m thankful for the healthcare workers taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of their patients… even if it means I had to be alone for such a significant moment. 

Big announcements like gender reveals

…changed, too (because yes, gender reveal parties are still a thing)! We went from all our friends and family gathering around a big box filled with balloons that we would let free at just the right moment to yet another virtual Zoom session. Among only our closest friends and family, I let Jackie, my 4-year-old daughter, do the honors of announcing we’d be adding ANOTHER girl to the mix! 

UPSIDE: Having a special intimate announcement that I was able to record was priceless. And I saved a ton of money on balloons, food, and decorations. Just sayin’.  

Documenting my pregnancy

…went from a variety of social events where we would naturally take photos to trying to remember what day of quarantine it was and finding a split-second where the stars aligned (aka the weather was good, makeup and outfit were put on and I had my fancy camera on hand) to get a good picture to document my growing baby bump. 

UPSIDE: The photos that I do get will be that much more precious. And, the captions I write with them will give tremendous insight into this unprecedented time in history for future generations.  

The pregnancy attention

…went from the normal socially appropriate, “You’re glowing!” or “You don’t even look pregnant from behind, it’s all belly!” to crickets. Honestly, some days I think people forget I’m pregnant. They usually only see me from my shoulders up on video calls or FaceTime. If not for my intentional picture-taking that gets posted on social media, I probably would surprise everyone when I resurface from this quarantine to reveal a brand new baby! 

UPSIDE: The socially inappropriate comments have stopped, too! I don’t have strangers trying to touch my belly. I don’t have awkward co-worker conversations about whether I will be breastfeeding, either. And people don’t exclaim, “Are you SURE you’re not having twins?!” (All these things have most definitely happened in previous pregnancies.) 

These are but a handful of ways this pandemic has reshaped this pregnancy. I could choose to dwell on the overarching climate of fear, anxiety, worry, and confusion that only increases my stress. OR, I can focus on finding the upside in every situation. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary for the health of me and my baby girl. So, today, I’m choosing to be thankful. Yes, I recognize the downsides, the difficulties, and the disasters happening around me. However, I’m choosing to be positive, no matter what. 

“Honey, what does this “+” sign mean on this stick?”

“It means you’re gonna be a dad.” Whoa!

I immediately have to make a choice, and it may seem easy, but it’s not. The fact is, I’m NOT excited about this unplanned pregnancy in our marriage.

This is going against the carefully thought-out plan we concocted so that our child(ren) could have the best life and be in the best position for success while also allowing me and our family to be successful at the same time.

No, I’m still not excited. On the other hand, my wife is jumping through the roof with excitement.

Hold up, did she let this happen on purpose? Do I fake it and join in with her? Am I honest with her? Am I sensitive? Should I let her have her moment or am I being real with myself and her?

Fast forward: 11 years and SIX kids later. Yep, six. (None were planned, although some were more of a surprise than others. For instance, conceiving while changing birth control methods). And guess what? My wife and I worked through it all, together and honestly.

Because of my wife’s understanding when I was honest and transparent about my concerns, not just about how life would change, but about my deep resentment that she wanted a baby right then even though I didn’t, we made it through the fears and the guilt.

There are legitimate, deeply personal reasons for not being excited about an unplanned pregnancy.

  • Concerns about how it will affect the marriage.
  • Not where you want to be in your career.
  • Financial considerations.
  • Effects of pregnancy and childbirth on a woman’s body.
  • Just don’t feel ready to be a parent.

The idea that I was wrong for initially feeling rejection toward the baby is damaging. Marriage is intended to be a place where honesty, transparency and reality can take place without judgment. It’s a place where you can handle an emotion personally, without taking the emotion personally (let that sink in). My wife took it personally that I thought she was being selfish and even divisive by wanting the baby. But she quickly realized that my emotions came from a place of fear, guilt and anxiety.

What got us through?

We talked and we disagreed. We expressed the strong emotions we had, but we did it together. When outsiders said hurtful things, we told one another and we cared for each other. We acknowledged where both of us were and decided that it was ok, because it was real. But we never forgot that together, we ultimately had what we needed to take on the privileged position of parenthood.

By the way, guess who was the first person to buy a book to read to the baby in the womb? You got it: Me! Now that I think about it, our process may have made us better parents. I can definitely say that how we handled our unplanned pregnancy strengthened our marriage and deepened our emotional intimacy.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***